3.8 ALTERNATORS DIE ONE AFTER THE OTHER EVERY 2 YEARS - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 08-02-2004, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default 3.8 ALTERNATORS DIE ONE AFTER THE OTHER EVERY 2 YEARS

Is it normal that alternators die every 2 years on my 88 SSE?
I got stalled last sunday again away from home (25 months after replacing it) and I had to use a used one from a Buick Lesabre 1988 scrap yard "donnor".
I realized that Buick uses a 125 amps in lieu of 105 amps in my Pontiac SSE88

The Buick type casing is a little bigger than the Pontiac but was easy to install
(bolts pattern is the same and the holding lugs also are matching.

This alternator is visually quite used and despite it'* old used look... the "thing" performance is just surprising and very promising.
Nor to say that if found it even better than any previous 105 amps new & rebuild alternators I installed along the years.

I have no clue now how long this Buick 125 amps will last however I am questionning
myself a lot now on Pontiac alternator design.

Is Buick design is by any chance better?
Is 105 amps is just not good enough to last on the Bonneville?
What are other option available to avoiding the 2 years replacement cycle?

I woud like to hear about your experience on this.
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Old 08-02-2004, 12:54 AM   #2
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i had a problem like that on my 88 sse a while back, the alternator would fry and not charge the battery and even at highway speeds i would be lucky to get it to the autozone up the street. I replaced the first one, it went out replaced it again with the same type, went out again. I went up to the autozone to get another one and i realized something, when they typed in my year, model, and type it would bring up two engines, 3.8c and like .... uhh.... (guessing) 3.8L i was getting the c when i needed the L. Make sure when you buy one you get the right one.

Hope my experience with that helps, James
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:26 AM   #3
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I have gotten so good at it, I once did it in a white shirt and tie, and only had to wash my hands afterwards. Of course this was on my Olds 88 Royale that was seeing 4-5k miles a month, I would usually get a year out of them. Our current Bonney is on its 3rd one in 5 years and I have a good spare waiting in the garage. Willwren has posted that alternators and batterys should be changed together, since one will stress the other. Some have suggested staying away from cheap "otter zone" units and getting an ACDelco from the dealer. This is costly. Someone else is bound to jump in with better ideas but thats what I have learned here.
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:49 AM   #4
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I had the same problem with my CS130 type alternator on my 96 Corsica. It was going through alternators almost every year. I even changed the battery once and that did not help. This car has a cool snorkel and intake for outside air to be pulled through the alternator. This did not help either. I finally got with a local rebuilder here in town that rewound my alternator with better parts and I got almost 4 years out of it before it went due to bearing failure. Had it rewound again and hope to get another 4 years.
Another peculiar problem I had with the remanufactured ones I was getting was the Volts Warning Light. The light would flicker if you ran the rear defogger and the fan at high speed if you accelerated. Did not make sense. Would not flicker at an idle with all accesories on and lights on. Never had problem since having it rewound.
Hope this helps.
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Old 08-02-2004, 02:48 AM   #5
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Your battery gets weakened by the bad alternator. Then the batter stresses the new alternator, causing it to overwork. If your battery is over 2 years old and your alternator fails, replace BOTH. Don't buy any old alternator off the shelf, either. Stick with an AC Delco Remanufactured unit with a warranty.
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Old 08-02-2004, 10:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willwren
Your battery gets weakened by the bad alternator. Then the batter stresses the new alternator, causing it to overwork. If your battery is over 2 years old and your alternator fails, replace BOTH. Don't buy any old alternator off the shelf, either. Stick with an AC Delco Remanufactured unit with a warranty.
Willwren,

What is your opinion on the option available from
ALTERNATORS PARTS at http://www.alternatorparts.com/cs130...uv_upgrade.htm
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Old 08-02-2004, 10:24 AM   #7
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Default alt

Its the rectifier bridge that burns out on these alternators from heat.
JC whitney sells a cool pack alt kit that changes the whole rear of the case to a finned type and keeps it cool.
The redesigned ACdelco rectifier holds up better than aftermarket so if you could find
a rebuild shop that uses genuine GM parts it should last.
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: alt

Quote:
Originally Posted by SSEBONNE4EVA
Its the rectifier bridge that burns out on these alternators from heat.
JC whitney sells a cool pack alt kit that changes the whole rear of the case to a finned type and keeps it cool.
The redesigned ACdelco rectifier holds up better than aftermarket so if you could find
a rebuild shop that uses genuine GM parts it should last.
To clarify this.....it'* the rear bearing design that heats up, and causes the rectifier bridge to run hot. The root fix is to improve the rear bearing and prevent this. The alternators at www.domesticperformance.com have this feature. I'm running my second (first failure was a fluke......manufacturing goof).

The heat failures seem to be worse (more frequent) on the SC models because the alternator location is farther to the rear, in a hotter location. Trapped between the hot nosedrive of the SC, and alot closer to the firewall.
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Old 08-02-2004, 06:10 PM   #9
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I went thru alternators like water until I put a big one in.
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Old 08-03-2004, 01:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin 91/97
I went thru alternators like water until I put a big one in.
Please specify what kind of "big" alternator did you put in and from where?
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